Nottingham Foodbank warns donations are falling but lockdown demand remains

Mesopotamia founder Rachael Miller (centre) with two of the charity’s volunteers.
By Jack Swaby

A Basford food bank is struggling to meet the increased demand for its services in the third national lockdown – with volunteers saying they are needed more than ever but donations are falling.

Mesopotamia, on Valley Road, delivers packages of fresh food weekly to the residents of the area that need it most.

But the economic hardship driven by the coronavirus pandemic means more people than ever are asking for help.

And donations have also taken a hit, meaning they are currently only delivering 200 parcels a week compared to 300 at the peak of the first wave.

Charity founder Rachael Miller said: “Over the first lockdown we were delivering 300 food packages per week.

“We are currently delivering two-thirds that amount despite demand being even higher than previous.

“It doesn’t look like restrictions will be easing anytime soon, and we’re worried about the amount of people that will be asking us for support.”

The charity is funded by its shop and public donations – its staff are all volunteers.
They currently receive no support from local government.

Ms Miller added: “It is alarming how many people have been approaching us who are self-employed, or not from the impoverished areas that you might expect.

“Small business owners are struggling due to reduced footfall, as well as restrictions imposed by the authorities.

“Sadly with no support from local government we’re so limited with what we can do.”

Even with the struggles she has experienced, Ms Miller makes it clear that she “encourages anybody who needs our help to approach us, that’s what we’re here for”.

Nottingham homelessness charity BlindEye has benefitted from Mesopotamia’s help during the pandemic after potential council funding did not happen.

Director Darren Lightfoot said: “Charities across the board are suffering right now, in a time where we’re probably needed the most.

“We were promised funding back in May to reflect our importance but we still haven’t received anything.

“Rachel and others have been such a great help for us and without them we wouldn’t have been able to do the vital work we do.

“As fantastic as that is, we shouldn’t have to be as reliant as we are on the generosity of other local charities.”

Nottingham City Council blames reduced government funding for being unable to support these organisations.

The Council has been forced into £12.5 million of budget cuts, affecting investment plans for projects such as these.

A council spokesperson said: “We had to make some extremely difficult decisions based on government cuts.

“Sadly we cannot provide support for some of the services that our most vulnerable residents rely on.”

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